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We all know that wine is basically the stuff of the gods—the fact that it's chock full of antioxidants is an added bonus. But it turns out other grape-derived ingredients are giving vino a run for its money, at least where skin health is concerned. Enter grapeseed oil, an all-natural product extracted from grape seeds after they've been used to make wine. Grapeseed has been a common ingredient in the wellness space for quite some time but in recent years, it's made its way to the skincare aisle, too.
Like our other favorite natural beauty staple, coconut oil, grapeseed oil contains linoleic acid and plenty of antioxidants that do the face and body good. Unlike coconut oil, however, grapeseed oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores—so even the most sensitive of skin types can use this oil with abandon.
To learn more about its benefits, we enlisted the help of Research Scientist Marisa Plescia with clean beauty e-tailer NakedPoppy; as well as New York dermatologists Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York; and Hadley King, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at Cornell University, to help explain all the benefits of this potent, multi-use oil. The facts don't lie, and as you'll see, this oil has a plethora of skin-aiding and preventative properties that pack a powerful punch.
Keep reading for more expert lingo on the benefits of grapeseed oil, and all the reasons you should add it to your daily beauty routine.
Type of ingredient: Oil
Main benefits: Moisturizes, lightens dark circles, fades scars, tightens skin, prevents sun damage.
Who should use it: All skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone.
How often can you use it?: Once-daily.
Works well with: Other natural oils like avocado, almond, and jojoba.
Don't use with: Anything harsh or drying that could counteract the oil's emollient qualities (retinol, salicylic acid, etc.).
What is Grapeseed Oil?
"Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, or grapeseed oil, is a lightweight oil that is extracted from the seeds of grapes and penetrates the skin quickly, leaving the skin soft, supple, and moisturized," says Plescia. In short, it's a jack-of-all-trades ingredient that's light in texture and easily absorbs into the skin.
Largely known for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, grapeseed oil also contains high amounts of omega fatty acids and vitamin E—which makes it popular when it comes to formulating skincare. But grapeseed oil's real strength lies in its molecular structure. "Polyphenol compounds in grapeseed oil, such as proanthocyanidins, are especially powerful antioxidants. Studies found that the antioxidant power of grapeseed proanthocyanidins is 20 times greater than that of vitamin E and 50 times greater than that of vitamin C," says Plescia. "The strong antioxidant capacities of grapeseed can help reduce the signs of aging, such as sun spots, fine lines, and wrinkles."
Benefits of Grapeseed Oil
• Combats breakouts: "Grapeseed oil is excellent for treating oily or acne-prone skin," says Plescia. "It’s high in linoleic acid, also known as omega-6 fatty acid, which in addition to fortifying the skin’s barrier and helping to reduce water loss from the skin, may help with acne."
• Lessens redness: "Some studies have also shown linoleic acid to be anti-inflammatory, great for inflamed and red skin often associated with breakouts," says Plescia.
• Lightens scars: Grapeseed oil contains powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids that work together to fade dark spots and lighten scars. Studies have shown that it can help speed up the healing process and decrease the formation of keloid scars.
• Hydrates and firms: Being that grapeseed oil contains vitamin E—an ingredient commonly found in expensive eye creams that reduces inflammation—as well as moisturizing fatty acids, it can help skin appear tighter and more youthful.
• Boosts collagen: Oral studies have shown that grapeseed oil can help repair sun damage and boost collagen repair. In fact, some research suggests it can reduce the appearance of fine lines and stretch marks.
• Anti-microbial: Plescia says that grapeseed oil's anti-microbial properties mean that it deeply cleanses the skin. "Grapeseed oil is mildly astringent and purifying with some antimicrobial properties, often attributed to the level of polyphenolic compounds called catechins," she notes.
• Prevents free-radical damage: Grapeseed oil is rich in many other advantageous compounds, including beta-carotene, vitamins D, C, E, and polyphenols. "These compounds have excellent antioxidant abilities making grapeseed oil a strong source of antioxidant benefits, including free radical scavenging and protection from environmental aggressors such UV radiation or pollution," notes Plescia.
• Lessens hyperpigmentation: As mentioned above, it's a jack-of-all trades. So in addition to fighting breakouts, it helps with sun damage and hyerpigmentation. "Grapeseed oil is often used as an ingredient in products designed for oily or acne prone skin as well as dry skin and hyperpigmentation," says Zeichner.
• Evens skin tone: As it contains the antioxidant proanthocyanidin, grapeseed oil "may help to even out skin tone when used consistently," says King.
[Ed. Note: In most of the studies that showed grapeseed oil could protect against free-radical damage, the ingredient was ingested orally rather than applied topically].
Side Effects of Grapeseed Oil
So far, science hasn't pointed to any negative side effects of grapeseed oil, when used topically. But more research should be done–on both side effects and its purported benefits. "Grapeseed oil is non-comedogenic and some believe that the antimicrobial properties may make it helpful for treating acne, but more data is needed to establish this benefit," says King.
How to Use Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil can be used in myriad ways. Most often it's used as a moisturizer, meant to be applied after cleansing. And it works well for day, as it's non-comedogenic and not at all greasy.
The Best Products With Grapeseed Oil
Zeichner and King both recommend Schaf's Age Repair Cream, an intensely hydrating multi-purpose cream. "It contains olive squalane for its emollient and anti-inflammatory properties, CoQ10 for its antioxidant properties, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin, anti aging peptides to lift and firm, and niacinamide to help with tone and texture and improve the natural production of ceramides," notes King. "It also contains African shea butter, jojoba oil, grape seed oil and vitamin E." Bonus: It's vegan and cruelty free.
Celebrity facialist Cecilia Wong's eponymous line of skincare products includes her "hero" product, a black currant serum loaded with plant-based antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins (grapeseed oil included, natch). It's suitable for all skin types, and works well with oily or acne-prone skin to hydrate, nourish and repair, giving the skin an overall healthy appearance.
Wong's Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin is ideal for those with “delicate skin that is easily irritated,” she says, as it works to repair skin and helps even the texture for those who have rosacea, eczema, or dry/rough skin.
For her clients, Wong recommends Goldfaden M.D.'s Wake Up Call, because it “hydrates and moisturizes skin overnight, leaving the skin feeling smooth and supple."
Another of Wong's favorites, Fleuressence is a "non-greasy, dry oil that helps to brighten, boost radiance, and improve skin tone," she says, and works well for those with dry skin while also protecting from environmental stress.
Grapeseed extract provides potent antioxidant properties to this hydrating and moisturizing cream which is also rich in hyaluronic acid, damask rose oil, rosehip oil, argan oil, pumpkin seed oil, and gingko biloba extract. "It softens the skin, evens tone, and supports skin elasticity," says King.
Enriched with grape seed extract, this gentle scrub delivers potent antioxidants. "Lime caviar gently exfoliates, and Kakadu plum is rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants as well," notes King. "It leaves the skin softer and brighter."
Up next: We found the best face oils for every skin type.